Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Baja California and the surrounding areas close to latitude thirty-two experience the season known as autumn on December eleventh, at four twenty-six in the afternoon. The next day it is wintertime. Here in deep September through early October we are smack in the middle of summer, sometimes even ninety degrees with a coastal breeze. Through November we will experience much of the same, and then the single day of autumn, and then into mid-December toward wintertime.

Happy Holidays.

The only hurricane that threatened the Eastern Pacific this year passed harmlessly into the largely unpopulated middle-Baja California peninsula and wasn’t anything more than a small disturbance by the time it arrived in Arizona. My friends in Florida were not so lucky. Baja California is blessed in many ways. And cursed in others.

At least we don’t have to deal with many hurricanes.

* * *

Nothing is a big deal these days, I just throw a jacket into my pack (just in case), and a couple of packages of cigarettes, and head out the door. When I have money and am running late, I catch a Taxi Libre to the border - or else I cram in to a Collectivo when I have to. At work, ten o’clock brings me to a truck that comes and sells, among other things, bean and cheese burritos for two-and-a-half dollars. We spend all day pumping digitally reproduced art out the door, and some flags and so on, and somehow by sheer will of human bodies, these things mostly get done on time.

Which is a goddamned miracle.

After over thirteen months, I received my first review and an adequate raise this afternoon. We went out to lunch, my boss and myself, and I spent more on that lunch than I would spend on a week’s worth of dinners here in Mexico.

The funny thing to me, and obviously only to me, is that I found myself saying this out loud: The crab-cakes are outstanding.

And they were.

A fictional character from a short story I wrote not too long ago said the same thing.

And then he died a few days later.

* * *

Among the bad parts of my review was the fact that I do not always play well with the other kids. I expected that. It is true, I have absolutely no patience for morons who pretend that they know what they are doing, and I show it.

I can correct my behavior rather easily by simply pretending that such people have learning disabilities and that illegal drugs make them think that they know what in the hell they are doing.

"I’ll work on that," I said.

I ate another piece of shrimp. Yum.

Another area of improvement: Too scruffy-looking.

I like scruffy. And I’d grow my hair back down to my waist if they let me.

"Sure, I can improve on that."

Note to self: Closer shaves a plus. Also, look into that beard-dyeing stuff that Rocio gets all giddy over whenever the commercial comes on and I am sitting close by. And get a fucking haircut, ok?

And on and on.

* * *

There were plusses. For example:

"Works very hard and gets jobs out in a timely fashion. Training was minimal, David learns very quickly. Asset to the company with his well-rounded background he is good with numbers and excellent with spreadsheets."

I am a goddamned fiend in Excel. My wonderful, bookkeeping mother would be proud, she has no idea about any of this; or else she would have insisted that I become an accountant. Respectfully, no thanks, mom.

But here is the funny thing, during my review, I often find myself silently reviewing my boss.

"Barbara is very adept at understanding the problems that here employees face, which makes her an excellent manager. She also has more balls than any man that I have ever worked for. She is honest and easy to take direction from. Whatever small negatives might exist in her performance are certainly outweighed by her strengths."

So, the raise was enough to know that they like me. Scruffy or not.

And maybe this year, on December eleventh and beyond, I won’t need a winter coat.

* * *

So, my hurricane has passed, and no real damage to speak of. While there is, and probably always will be this voice inside of me that says I don’t want to work on Maggie’s Farm no more, there is another voice that says that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to help harvest the cotton crop this year, and maybe the next.

And I really like my boss.

And the crab-cakes really were excellent.


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